FML Contest

Title: The More Things Change...
Pen Name: bmango and theladyingrey42
Characters: Jasper and Edward
Disclaimers: Twilight is not ours.

To see the rest of the entries in this contest, please visit the FML C2: http://www . fanfiction . net/community/FML_Contest_Fics/77195/ (remove spaces for link to work)

Thanks to antiaol for beta-ing and more.

This is our first time collaborating. We hope you enjoy.

----

JPOV

It was the day before winter break, and I was in a completely shit mood. To start with, I was staring down two weeks with my dad and his new wife, Judy. In the house I grew up in. The house where, up until about two years ago, my mom had lived.

Until my dad had started fucking Judy.

As if that wasn't enough to make me pissy, I was currently standing outside my dorm, stamping my feet in the cold, waiting for my supposed best friend Edward to pick me up in his shiny fucking Volvo.

To say I was apprehensive about a two hour car ride with Edward was the understatement of the fucking century. And that thought made the sharp pain in my chest flair again. I remembered a short time ago, back when everything was so easy between us, and we were both so excited to be heading off to college together. Well, sort of together. I chuckled as I recalled him debating endlessly between Dartmouth and Cornell. Then I got into the theatre program at Ithaca College, and geography won out and he chose Ithaca to stay with his best friend.

Me.

But now I hadn't really seen him in weeks, not since he'd gone to my first stage performance at IC. I'd been so nervous as a freshman surrounded by upperclassmen. But he'd said he would be there opening night and I'd used his smiling face to make all my nerves disappear, giving the fucking performance of my life. I'd been elated to share it with him and when it was over, I'd invited him to the after-party at a friend's house. During the night, I'd gone to refill our cups from the keg and returned to find him pressed against the wall by someone with long, dark hair, their mouths moving together and moans escaping their throats.

When I realized that the long, dark hair belonged to my buddy's brother, Seth, I almost dropped our beers.

And the really fucked up thing was that I couldn't decide if it was because my supposedly straight best friend was kissing a guy. Or because there was this small part of my supposedly straight self that had wanted his lips on mine.

I must have made some noise because Edward's eyes had suddenly darted to mine and abruptly pushed Seth off of him, but I had seen all I needed to.

Suddenly I knew my best friend had been hiding a huge part of himself from me. And I didn't even fucking care if he was gay, but to find out like this, while he sucked face with that ... that boy. The betrayal of my trust and friendship was like a knife through my heart.

I stormed out of the party and stalked back to my dorm, seething the entire way. The shock of my attraction to Edward and the realization that he had closed off a large part of his life from me left me reeling for days. Edward called me incessantly, but I didn't listen to his messages and didn't return his calls. How could I explain when I didn't understand it myself?

He eventually sent me an email explaining everything - about how he was gay, but didn't want to come out in high school and was unsure about my reaction. I couldn't miss the bitterness even in his writing when he told me all his fears had been justified. He went on to say that it was better if we weren't friends if I was going to act this way.

I tried calling him after that, but I didn't have the right words to ask his forgiveness, to explain myself, and he basically told me to go fuck myself. I wanted to scream with frustration after he hung up on me, but I knew I couldn't let him just give up on us so quickly. And although I hadn't completely reconciled all the unexpected want and jealousy I felt at seeing his lips on another boy's, I had to concede that I wanted him. Hell, I needed him. Without Edward's constant presence, whether hanging out or just keeping in touch with emails or phone calls, my world had suddenly become darker.

The darkest moment had come when I'd ridden the bus back home to Rochester by myself for my dad's wedding last month. It was the kind of thing Edward always would have gone to with me. He was the only one who knew how much things with my parent's divorce had eaten at me and how pissed I still was that Dad was marrying the bitch he'd cheated on my mom with. Sitting through that ceremony, alone, with a fake smile on my face was one of the most difficult acts of my life, and afterwards I'd missed my best friend even more that I had before.

The bus ride back to Ithaca after the wedding had been the tipping point for me, and I'd finally called him again not long after. I told myself it was my one last attempt at fixing the mess I had made. To my surprise, he actually listened to me, even if most of his responses were monosyllabic grunts. Just before we hung up, he asked me when he should pick me up for the ride home for Christmas break. At first, I was elated that I would get a chance to see him in person and that I wouldn't have to take the bus home again, but then he mumbled some shit about honoring his earlier promises and needing the gas money and I couldn't help feeling disappointed all over again. Small steps, I reminded myself.

Not that I really wanted to go to my dad's house, especially with my new step-mom, Judy, being all annoying and shit, but the dorms closed over Christmas break and I had no other options. And that was how I came to be standing in the fucking cold waiting for his late ass.

Not long after I finished cursing him in my head, I saw his xenon headlights turn into the drive.

"About fucking time," I muttered under my breath.

The music was fucking blaring as he pulled up next to me. He popped the trunk from inside and I threw my duffel bag with my dirty clothes, my backpack and my guitar case next to his bags.

I opened the door and climbed in the passenger seat, receiving a glare from Edward before I remembered to knock the snow off my boots. Seriously, dude, chill the fuck out.

I reached for the volume knob to turn the music down to merely deafening, but he grabbed my hand and shook his head at me. Apparently, he was still ignoring me. Fine.

I looked over at his profile, noticing the dark lines under his eyes. He wasn't sleeping again.

I briefly wondered what had been bothering him, but one look in his cold eyes and I realized that my concern was one-sided. I shoved my feelings aside and sneered back at him. He slammed the gas pedal down and veered out of the drive, swerving down the road before turning suddenly to head north through town, making me clutch my seat before I went through the fucking windshield.

"Seriously! Are you trying to kill us?!" I yelled over the music.

"What's wrong, J? Do I scare you?" he sneered at me, derision dripping from every word.

"You don't scare me, man! But I didn't know you drove like a fucking maniac these days."

"There's a lot you don't know about me," he said so softly, I barely heard him over the music.

Eventually, I gave up on trying to talk to him after failing to start a conversation beyond grunts and one-word answers or getting him to just fucking look at me. The silence was oppressive, and I watched as Edward clenched his hands tighter and tighter on the wheel.

Before long, he was pulling into my dad's driveway behind his old pickup truck.

"Well, thanks for the ride. See you in a couple weeks for the trip back." I tried to hide my disappointment that things were still so strained between us, but I didn't see how two hours together was ever going to fix anything.

He grunted in response as he bent over to reach the release for the trunk, and his shirt inched up, revealing a sliver of white skin with black ink emblazoned across it.

I was going to ignore it, but I couldn't stop myself from blurting out, "What's that?"

"What's what?" he asked, turning back to me, and for once, staring me in the eyes.

"Your tattoo." I gestured toward his side. "Can I see it?"

"Sure, I guess."

He lifted his shirt, revealing a tribal design of a lion arching up toward his ribs with the mane disappearing into the waist band of his jeans, the black ink contrasting sharply with his white skin. I stared for longer than was probably appropriate, tracing the ink with my eyes, fighting the sudden urge to trace it with my tongue.

The space in the car pressed against me, and I needed to run, get the fuck away from him before I did something I couldn't explain, something he obviously didn't want. Since that kiss I'd witnessed, I'd had a difficult time keeping Edward's body out of my fantasies. I had always thought my lack of commitment to any of the stream of girls that never meant anything was because I had to live through my own parents' version of a relationship. Now, I wasn't entirely sure what I was feeling.

Hurriedly, I exited the car, slamming the door and retrieving my bags and guitar from the trunk before slamming that, too. I moved to go apologize, but he skidded off in a whirl of snow and gravel, his glare piercing me through the windshield before he spun the car around and sped down the street.

Fuck.

It seemed that I everything I did around him lately just went to shit. I took a deep breath and tried to refocus. Right now, I had to get through the next few days here with my dad and my new step-mom and then I could try to fix things with Edward again. I hoped.

I turned back to my father's house, my gut already clenching, hoping this wasn't a sign of my weeks to come. This place was never home, and the addition of a wicked step-mother wasn't exactly going to help. And I realized I didn't even know where the fuck home was anymore.

Fuck.

I ran my hands through my hair and sighed deeply, steeling myself before grabbing my things and walking up to the house.

Entering, I called repeatedly to my dad and Judy, but there was no response. Instead of lugging my dirty clothes upstairs, I decided to drop them in the laundry room first. Walking through the living room, I noticed a new chair and pictures and knickknacks that were definitely not there before, making it look like an entirely new place. Must have been Judy, now that she wasn't just the girlfriend.

Opening the door to the laundry room, I met my dad's lily white ass slamming into Judy on the washing machine.

"Holy fuck!" I threw my hands over my face, but unfortunately, that image was already burned into my retinas. "You knew I was coming home! Couldn't you keep it in the bedroom?"

They stopped but didn't move an inch.

"Jasper?" a small female voice emanated from the washing machine.

She wasn't Judy.

"Mom?" Holy fucking hell, this really couldn't get any worse.

I turned and ran back into the kitchen, needing some sort of...something. My dad stumbled after me, and I almost vomited, realizing he was still tucking himself back into his pants.

"This isn't what it looks like."

"Really? What the fuck is it then? I would love to hear this one. 'Cause it looked a hell of a lot like you were fucking Mom and not your wife in there."

Dad stared at me, his mouth opening and closing like a dying fish.

"Brilliant explanation, Dad. I gotta get the fuck out of here. You people just make me sick."

"Where the hell are you going to go?" he asked harshly before I cut him off with a glare. "I mean, for Christ's sake, you just got here. And it's practically sleeting out."

"I don't know, just...away from here." My heart sank as I realized the only other place I would consider going was no longer an option for me. I remembered entirely too vividly the sound of the car door slamming and the look on Edward's face.

I looked up and saw my dad approaching me, concern in his eyes, his hand reaching out to stop me.

"Don't fucking touch me." I backed away, looking for an escape and decided to just run for it. He couldn't catch me, not after all the running I did in high school and college.

By the time I hit the front porch, I was at a dead sprint. I bolted for the woods, knowing the trails like the back of my hand. No one could find me here. Only Edward and I knew these paths.

Fuck. Edward. Like I really needed to think about him now.

I heard my dad yelling after me, but I ignored him easily and pushed myself harder. I concentrated on my breaths moving in and out of my chest, on the sleet falling steadily over my head and body and not on the whirlwind of thoughts spinning in my head. My dad and my mom were... And in Dad's house... On the fucking washing machine. It was almost ironic, in a twisted not-so-funny way, that my father cheated on my mom with Judy and now he was... Oh hell. Just...fuck my life.

Images of my parents and all the years of heartache they put each other through were meshing with the images from today.

And it was just too much of a mind fuck to even wrap my head around.

As I ran, I tried to block everything out, but I couldn't help but notice that every goddamn thing I ran by reminded me of growing up here with Edward, the ache in my chest not coming just from my lungs anymore. Our childhoods were spent here in these woods, imagining, dreaming and, as we got older, talking about anything and everything.

But now we were almost strangers, our friendship reduced to nothing but a fucking ride home and gas money.

I ran for what felt like forever before I finally bent over with my hands on my knees, my lungs burning, my body shivering, not used to running so hard in the cold and sleet. I looked up and realized it was nearing dusk and I was standing in Edward's backyard, a single rectangle of light spilling on the grass from his room.

How the hell did I get here?

The sight of his house brought back the horrible vision of his face as he left me in my driveway. My body was starting to shake and quiver from the sleet that had melted in my hair and clothes, the cold permeating my body. I had to knock; I had to try. Honestly, I had no other options.

I took a deep breath and strode to the front door, hoping my friend would answer, the friend I used to run to with my problems. The one whose memory instinctively brought me here tonight.

I banged on the door and listened to his hard footsteps approaching. The porch light came on and the door flew open. Edward stood there before me, his green eyes flashing and angry and beautiful.

I really had been trying not think of Edward that way, especially while I was so confused.

But, I was.

My body was responding to him again in ways I didn't want to acknowledge. I fought a deep yearning to grab his tousled bronze hair and shove my tongue past those perfectly sculpted lips. He stood there, unaware of my inner struggles, appraising me in stony silence. When he finally opened his mouth, it was not the welcome I had hoped for.

"What the fuck are you doing here?"

I flinched with the venom in his voice, but I knew I deserved his spite after the way I reacted earlier.

"I didn't have anywhere else to go," I began lamely, almost kicking myself for my pansy-ass words that didn't convey an ounce of how much I needed him.

"So, you think you can jump out of my car without even a goodbye, and then when you're lost and cold, I'll take you in again, no questions?"

I needed to fix this.

I looked up into his stern gaze, my truth projecting from me, the words flying past my lips before I could stop them.

"Fuck, Edward, I need you." I ran my hands across my face. Where would I go if he said no? "Please."


EPOV:

I didn't know how long I stood there, watching sleet drip down his face, droplets on his eyelashes and his dirty blond ringlets hanging limply. Everything about him limp.

Defeated.

Beautiful.

I winced and pinched the bridge of my nose, finally moving out of the way to let him in, even though I didn't really want to do it.

But Jasper needed me.

And what I needed - what I couldn't handle didn't matter.

"You coming in or not?" I asked gruffly, still trying to keep up my walls, because if I let him into more than my house, I'd be letting him break me. And there was no way I was letting that happen. Again.

His expression was all gratitude and relief as he stepped over the threshold, and I felt a deep pang in the pit of my stomach as he smoothed that hair that was honey and wet out of his face.

And then he looked at me, cloudy grey eyes like the sky set above the uncertain beginnings of a wary smile.

I fought not to let arousal and need and eight years of being in love with the same ambiguously straight asshole show on my face, and decided to be an asshole myself to hide it, moving up the stairs and toward my room. Without even looking back to see if he was following, I threw drawers open and slammed them, pulling out the kind of boxers I knew he liked and the longest pair of jeans I had. And it was petty, but of all the t-shirts in the world, I picked one with my name on it.

He was standing there when I turned around, still dripping and looking for everything in the world like a drowned rat, shivering in the cold.

And for all of it he was still fucking gorgeous.

"Here," I mumbled roughly, throwing the clothes at him and jerking my thumb at the bathroom across the hall instead of letting him use mine. "Towels are clean in there."

Sure. Like that was a good enough excuse.

He didn't say a damn thing, just grabbing everything and turning. I stood in the doorway, watching him, and when the door closed quietly behind him, it was louder than when he'd slammed the goddamn door in my face back in the car.

Because it was still a rejection.

Figuring I was safe for a minute, I flopped down on my back on my bed, tearing at my hair and groaning, trying for the thousandth time to figure out how I had managed to fuck everything up. My mind flashed over so many images of us. Just the two of us. Inseparable. Kids with our arms around each other. The captains of every team. Partners.

Friends.

Until I'd fucked it all up.

I could still see Jasper's face, the look of absolute horror and disgust as I pulled away from the flesh I didn't really want, and found myself staring with shame at the best friend I'd been lusting over since I'd figured out what lust was. And as I stared at him, I understood that whether or not he knew that particular bit of information about my sexuality, he finally knew enough. And he hated me for it.

I'd lived in a virtual hell for days when he'd refused to even talk to me, hating myself and what I was and wishing I could take it all back. But I couldn't. The first time he'd called, days after I'd poured out all my anger and frustration in a drunken email, I'd still been too disappointed with him and too digusted with myself to even talk to him, and to my own horror I'd ended up pushing him away.

The second time he'd called me, weeks later, I'd answered with my heart in my throat, so grateful to hear his voice and so hurt by his silence I could barely respond. And then he'd stammered out this awkward apology, saying he didn't give a shit who I fucked, but with this little edge to every word that had belied it all.

He'd finally broken down and said it was the lie that killed him. The lie I'd told him every single day I hadn't told him who I was.

Up until that moment, I hadn't thought it was possible to be more disgusted with myself than I already was.

I was wrong.

My hand subconsciously fell to my side, rubbing the tattoo there as I remembered the day I'd gotten it, wincing through the discomfort at the same time that I'd held on to it, hoping the pain would brand me as deeply as the ink would.

That it would burn into me a permanent reminder.

My fingers swirled absently over the crisp black tribal lines of the lion. A lion, because lions led from the heart.

And if I'd let my heart lead me in the first place, I wouldn't be in this hell, too awkward to talk to my best goddamn friend who hated me and needed me. If I'd led from the heart, I would have told him years ago.

I was jogged back into awareness and away from that particular minefield of self-loathing by the sound of the bathroom door opening. Jasper stumbled out, that fucking adorable grin back on his face right until the moment he spotted me splayed out on my bed, my shirt riding up again as I played with the lines of ink that spread out across my abdomen.

His eyes clouded then, this unreadable expression on his face just like there had been in the car when I'd showed it to him in the first place. It was pain and disgust and uncertainty and …

Lust?

Horrified at myself for even thinking that kind of thing, throwing myself back out there for the wolves of my pathetic crush to devour me, I sat up stiffly, pulling my shirt over my skin and past the aching line of my dick to hide how my body was responding to even the idea of him wanting me. When I looked up at him again, he was a picture of blankness, his eyes turned away from me with just as much finality as if it had been that car door slamming in my face again.

Angry without even knowing why, I silently cursed at him and at myself as I shifted from one bare foot to the other, hovering in my doorway as he leaned uncomfortably against the wall, his hand gripping his neck and everything in his body language closed. I was about ready kick him right back out of my house again because it hurt so much to have him so close and know he couldn't stand to be around me, but I was at his mercy.

I was stuck, really.

And he'd said he needed me.

"So, um …" he started, finally breaking the silence that was threatening to drown me. I looked up nervously without lifting my head, finding him guarded, a mask of blankness still pulled over his features, but with something else there just beneath the surface.

And then he said the last thing I'd been expecting. "Thanks, Edward. I just, um - some really fucked up shit went down at my Dad's house when I got home and I couldn't - I just had to go somewhere."

Somewhere. I was 'somewhere.'

So he really didn't need me.

I grunted out a scoffing laugh because I was being ripped to shreds here and if I opened my mouth he'd see.

There was uncomfortable silence again and I felt heat rising in my face as he stood there staring at me while I couldn't even bring myself to look at him, knowing full well what I'd see.

"Why the fuck are you being such an asshole to me?" he finally exploded, and I was so shocked I found my head jerking up in spite of myself.

"What - " I floundered, my jaw dropping.

"Look, I'm sorry that I freaked out earlier, but I came - I came here because it's where I've always come. Always. Since we were fucking kids. And I just need something normal now and you're still being this total asshole and pushing me away again and it's making me crazy, E. So just kick me the fuck out or just … just be nice to me." The sound of his head thumping against the wall behind him broke me, the walls in my chest cracking just as his were rocked by one silent, tearless sob. "I've had a really shitty day."

With that, everything finally came tumbling down and I couldn't do the asshole thing and I couldn't stop wanting him.

But for one afternoon, I could try to pretend that we were fourteen again, if that was what he needed.

Feeling like my face might almost crack, I smirked at him. "Fucking faerie," I teased, just like in the old days, even if I was describing me more than him. When he smiled back, I tried not to let my relief show or the ways he affected me. "C'mon," I said finally, uncrossing my arms and trying to just be normal as I took the stairs two at a time. Turning at the landing to actually check this time to see if he was following me, I asked as casually as I could, "So you hungry?"

"Pretty much always," he admitted and I laughed and it felt good to let myself.

I couldn't help watching him out of the corner of my eye as he moved around the kitchen like he lived here, and I realized in the pit of my stomach that he sort of did. Every vacation and every summer he all but set up camp here, escaping something at his house that he rarely talked about and that I never pushed him on. And even during the year, he'd usually be here, just doing homework or sitting in my room listening to music or shooting the shit.

My eyes shifted without even thinking to the den where we slept over the summer, splayed out on sleeping bags, me trying to hide the aching hardness of my cock as we would just lie there in the dark and talk.

It was the only time he ever really opened up to me, letting out little bits about how fucked up and tense things were between him and his parents.

Those were the nights I was almost tempted to tell him everything about me that I had been hiding. But in the end I never did.

Because I wasn't a lion.

I was a chickenshit wimp and now I was paying the price for it.

"E?"

"Huh?"

"I asked if you wanted any," Jasper said, holding up a can of coke and looking at me like he'd already asked three or four times. Which he probably had.

"Yeah, sure," I answered, trying to shake my moodiness off. Because really it was beyond idiotic to be wasting my time thinking about how I'd pushed my best friend away from me when, for the first time in months, he was here, and apparently not holding all of my recent fuckery against me.

He grabbed two and motioned for me to grab the plates of sandwiches we'd made as he walked toward the den where we always ended up anyway, flopping down on the couch like he belonged there. Which he did.

I sat on the other end, keeping plenty of room between us and feeling self-conscious about it when I'd never used to be. It was shocking to think this was the first time we'd been home since he'd found out about me, and I chuckled to myself to think about how much things had changed.

And how everything was still the same.


JPOV

I dove into my sandwich as soon as I sat on the couch in the den, feeling like we were fucking back in high school again, maybe back to being friends. And I needed this, needed him, needed something to be good in my life again. Sitting here, chilling in the den, I could forget about the fuckery at the house and the crazy shit my parents always thrust upon me.

Edward reached for the remote and flipped through channels until he paused on Comedy Central showing a rerun marathon of some sitcom. I grunted my assent around a mouthful of food and he laid down the remote, starting to pick at his own sandwich.

I pretended to relax against the cushions, but kept glancing surreptitiously at Edward. I released the breath I was holding when I saw him mirroring my position. I'd been so worried after walking out of the bathroom to find him tracing his tattoo, struck by this impulse to touch him. Everywhere. But fortunately, he'd gone back to being an asshole, and I'd easily slipped back into my feigned nonchalance.

But now, when I looked at him, I knew what was under that shirt - perfect white skin, black ink. My reactions were becoming harder to hide, and sitting here in the dark with the flickering television providing no distraction, my task was becoming more difficult.

I was startled from my fantasies by the sound of soft voices in the hallway and Esme's questioning call.

"We're in here, Ma!" Edward yelled over the noise of the television.

He stood as she breezed into the den, wrapping her in a quick hug.

"Oh, Edward! I'm so glad you're home, baby."

I cringed as they embraced and she held him tightly for a few seconds before her eyes alit on me over his shoulder. I stood awkwardly and tried to keep my face stoic but I was sure my reaction was plain. I'd never had that kind of welcome, and that was painfully obvious tonight.

"It's good to be home, Ma," he responded, pulling back slightly. Esme messed with his face and hair, being all motherly and shit before she turned her attention to me. I watched Edward and Carlisle have a father-son moment, jealousy tearing through me again.

Esme approached me and I watched her hesitantly. She silently pulled me into a tight embrace and I tucked my head into her shoulder, my raw emotions too close to the surface. I knew I was holding her closer than I should, my fists clutching at her shirt, but she just fucking held me even tighter.

"It's good to see you, too," she whispered softly.

I backed away slowly and ducked my head, embarrassed by my overly emotional response, but Esme would have none of it.

She sighed and I looked up. "We'll have you over for dinner sometime this week."

She had an encouraging smile on her face and I knew it wasn't really a question, but I nodded before turning away again.

She stepped away and addressed Edward, "Sorry we're home so late."

"S'ok," he mumbled, avoiding looking at me. "We were just hanging out anyway."

"Your father and I are going to bed. But we'll talk tomorrow?"

Edward nodded and I waved at both of them while Edward said goodnight and got a kiss from Esme.

I sat back on the couch and took steadying breaths, trying to rein in my emotions again. After a few minutes, Edward got up from the couch and grabbed his X-Box from a pile of stuff in the corner.

"Wanna kill some shit?"

That was the best fucking idea he'd had all night. "God, do I ever."

He smiled and set up the gaming system while I chose a game. I picked something with lots of things to kill and large guns. We logged in and I quickly picked my character and weapon, not really caring what they were as long as I could shoot something. As Edward made his selections, I watched his long fingers on the controller, wondering how they would grip me if he were to touch me.

I shook my head 'cause those thoughts were getting me absolutely fucking nowhere except to a place that was even more confused and frustrated.

He started the game and I glanced back at him as he concentrated intently on the screen, and I wondered almost bitterly if he realized how easy he had it. The perfect parents, the perfect house, fuck, even the perfect entertainment center. He knew he was loved no matter what. I was fucking forgotten as soon as I walked out the door.

"You know you're just about the luckiest fucker ever, right E?" I asked finally, unable to keep my thoughts to myself.

He continued to shoot zombies, seemingly ignoring me and I was about to say to forget it when he responded quietly, "Sometimes, J. Sometimes."

I was actually fairly surprised that he acknowledged his good life, but I quickly returned my attention to the video game in front of me, allowing it to absorb all of my thoughts. Taking out my aggression about my stupid parents and my stupid life and my body's fucked up reactions to my best goddamn friend on imaginary creatures was a better idea than the alternative. Better than confronting my parents about...whatever the fuck it was.

Better than licking a fucking guy, like I'd been wanting to all day.

Suddenly, the phone rang and Edward paused the game and leapt for the phone, cringing and glancing at the clock, making me realize for the first time exactly how fucking late it had gotten.

"Hullo?" he answered.

He listened for a second and then covered the receiver while looking at me. "Your mom?"

The blood drained from my face. So now she cared what I was doing? Like she had any right...

"Yeah, he's here." Edward looked at me apologetically and handed me the phone.

My flight or fight response kicked in and I wanted to run, but I reached for the receiver instead. Fight it was then.

"What do you want?" I began brashly.

"Jasper, I was worried," her simpering voice putting my teeth on edge.

"Yeah, well, fucking whatever..."

I heard her gasp at my language, but she continued like it hadn't happened. "Are you coming home tonight?" Home? I almost scoffed, because Dad's house was the last place on earth I felt like I could call home right then.

I bit my tongue and recovered, muttering lamely, "I don't know."

"What do you mean, you don't know?" Her voice rose with each question, becoming the petulant woman I knew so well.

"I'm not sure if I'm coming back or not, okay? I'm sure you two will find something to do without me around," I sneered. Then I remembered that I hadn't asked Edward if I could stay. Shit. I looked at him expectantly, but he avoided my eyes. It didn't matter, I wasn't going back to that house.

"Don't take that tone with me, young man."

"Whatever, Mom. I just...I can't talk to you right now." I hung up without waiting for her response. I just couldn't anymore. She'd told me just yesterday that she was seeing a "real catch," but she hadn't told me that she'd already thrown him back once before. What kind of fucking game were they playing?

I dropped my head into my hands, just breathing and trying to not be any more of a fucking pussy than I already was. I couldn't look into E's eyes; his reproach or sympathy would be equally unbearable.

"Sorry about that," I said from the confines of my hands. The words were inadequate, but really all I had right now. I listened to Edward fidget next to me and the television turn off.

He suddenly blurted out, "If you want to, you're welcome to stay here. Alice isn't getting home for a couple days, so you could have her room. Or we can sleep here like usual. Or you can go home. Or whatever."

I looked up then, surprised slightly by his offer, but I needed this, this reconnection. So, if we needed to go back to the beginning, back to sleeping bags and late night conversations here in this den, then that was where I wanted to be. "Yeah. Here's good."

"You, um, you sure?" His voice filled with insecurity. "You're okay to sleep with, um, with me? Even now that you-?"

"Are you fucking kidding me with this shit, E? I told you, I don't give a fuck about that." I was so angry at myself. How did we get so far apart? Was I really such an unbelievable asshole?

"I know, but..." he trailed off.

I sighed and tried another tactic, lowering my voice. "I don't care if you're gay or an alien or an axe-murderer or even if you're," I swallowed thickly, "fucking that - boy." I almost couldn't get those words across my tongue, because the last part was a straight up fucking lie. I cared. Too much. But if he was who Edward wanted, I wasn't going to stop him. My current state of almost-lust was too confusing for me as it was.

"I mean, fuck it," I continued, waving my hands to indicate the den. "We used to spend almost every night here and, so far, you've managed not to attack me. I'm not worried about my ass tonight, no matter how fine it is." He chuckled at that but it sounded weirdly strained, and the thought made my body respond uncomfortably. My laughter caught in my throat when I thought of another reason he might be nervous. "Unless you don't want..."

"No, it's cool," he quickly interjected. He rubbed his face and I noticed again how tired he was, dark circles still prominent under his eyes. He stood eventually, turning back toward me before walking from the room. "You remember where everything is?"

No sooner had I nodded than he bolted from the room. I sighed, wondering when this would stop being an effort again. When we would be back to just us?

I gathered the sleeping bags and pillows from the closet and laid them out on the floor remembering to put Edward's closest to the door. That motherfucker never could sleep through the night.

I sat on my sleeping bag, waiting for his return and wondering what would happen when the lights were off. I had always felt most connected to him while lying here in the dark; it was the only time when I would tell him about my parents, about all the yelling and screaming, about why I couldn't actually sleep at my own house.

Would it be the same tonight? Could I tell him about this newest fucked up chapter in my parents' saga?

He entered the den wearing sleep pants and a t-shirt, and I was briefly disappointed that I wouldn't get another glimpse of his tattoo. I wasn't sure why I was so obsessed, but my semi-hard dick was definitely interested. Fuck.

He tossed pajama pants at me and I exited the room quickly, trying to hide the discomfort in my pants. In the hallway bathroom, I glimpsed myself in the mirror and stopped short when I saw Edward's name across my chest, my pulse speeding and my cock hardening further all because he put his mark on me.

When did you become such a fucking girl, Whitlock?

Probably when I started fantasizing about boys.

Well, boy really.

Edward.

Rummaging through the drawers, I found the toothbrush and toothpaste that Esme always kept here for me. I brushed my teeth and walked back into the den, contemplating how I was going to sleep with him so close, trying not to think about him at all. Especially not his proximity. Or his body.

Only when I stopped thinking about E, I started thinking about my fucking parents again.

Fuck.

Trying to ignore him, lying on his back with his eyes closed, I turned off the light and slipped into my sleeping bag as quietly as I could. I listened to his quiet breathing, and I knew he wasn't sleeping, but I didn't want to talk. Not yet.

Stuck in the loop of obsessing about my parents again, lying in that room where I'd poured my heart out so many times, I was still just trying to wrap my head around what I had witnessed this afternoon. My father and my mother together. How many times did I cry myself to sleep, wondering why they couldn't be happy together? And then they were so nonchalantly fucking on the washer. Just when life was starting to make sense with Dad getting married and Mom moving on, they had to fuck it all up again. I laughed bitterly at myself in my head.

I curled into myself and away from the one person who could make things better as he silently laid beside me in the dark. Defeated by my circular thoughts and my foolish hopes, my shoulders shook as I couldn't hold the emotions back any longer, even as I tried to let the darkness take me.


EPOV

We laid there, his body what felt like just inches and yet miles away from mine, heat washing over every inch of my skin and precum just soaking my shorts I was so hard, my dick weeping to have him so close. It was perfect and it made my heart hurt, and I was about to drown in everything that was confusing me.

Right up until I heard this little sniffling sob from those inches and miles to the right of me.

My eyes wrenched themselves open instantaneously, everything else forgotten except the look on Jasper's face, his arm thrown over his eyes and his shoulders rocking. I just watched him, his skin so pale in the dim light seeping in through the blinds and my throat choking and closed.

"Um, hey," I whispered tentatively, but I knew immediately it was the wrong thing to do when he pulled in one long, shaking inhale and covered his face even tighter with his hands.

I flopped back down on my back with my arms at my sides, my stomach roiling and wanting to do something, but there wasn't anything to do but listen to my best friend pretend not to cry.

"Do you want to know why my mom called looking for me?" His voice rang out quietly in the dark, surprising me. It was calm now, and yet full of pain, a bitter edge making the words sound like they were ringed with flame.

"Huh," I grunted, realizing I hadn't wondered that, really, even though I knew full well I'd dropped him off in front of his dad's house.

"I caught her and my dad fucking. On the washing machine. Probably the washing machine he bought for goddamned Judy for their wedding, for Chist's sake. I mean seriously, the asshole couldn't keep it in his pants the whole time he was married to my mom. Then he marries the slut he cheated on her with, and six weeks later he's back with her again? When he knew full well I was coming home?" He paused for a moment, his breathing ragged. When he continued again, his voice was cracking and ready to break. "And the saddest part of it all is, I'm almost happy that they might be back together, but I'm also so fucking pissed because they're acting like whores. Both of them."

"Jesus, J," I swore.

"And the asshole could barely even be bothered to stop fucking her when I walked in. And she's all 'Hi honey' like there's nothing wrong with it all. It was so fucked up. He had no excuse either, practically trying to pretend it didn't happen and shit."

Lying there in the dark, I remembered all those other nights we'd spent in this room. All the confessions. All the other times he'd pretended not to sob through the details of his parents' divorce. All the times his dad had been a total ass.

"I'm so fucking sorry, J," I whispered. "Why didn't you tell me? About any of it? About them getting married, even-"

He cut me off, snorting, "Yeah, 'cause we were really on such great terms at that point."

"Like I care. Any time, J. Anything. You know that."

"Yeah, I do," he said quietly. "I just didn't - I didn't know how - "

"Bullshit," I swore. "Total bullshit."

"No, what's bullshit is how you've acted for the last month."

He might as well have slapped me, all my righteous indignation slipping away. And now it was my turn to imitate a gaping fish.

"I didn't - I just - "

"See? Bullshit."

He flopped back down on his back and his fucking arm was over his face and I was hurt and mad and I knew right then and there beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was my fault. That I shouldn't have pushed him away. That I should have taken him up on his offer to stay friends sooner instead of keeping him at arm's length.

I felt my own voice choking this time as I whispered, "I'm sorry."

When he turned his neck to look at me, he eyes were soft and glistening as he said simply, "I know."

I stifled back my own lonely sniffle then, my eyes hurting from trying to keep it all in and from never fucking sleeping, and I ground my hands into them hard, letting out a little growl of frustration before lapsing back into a silence that said more than most words could.

"I lied earlier," he said finally, his voice soft and laced with something I couldn't quite read. Pulling my hands away from my face, I tried to find meaning in those cool grey eyes, but they were still turned up toward the ceiling. "It did bother me. Sort of."

I gulped hard, my whole body tensing, and it was probably the first time all day that my dick wasn't hard.

"Oh."

"It just, um, it ... Fuck, Edward. Of course it bothered me that you were gay and never told me. And yeah the lying was the worst of it. But seeing you kissing a guy weirded me out, too."

Of course it weirded him out, you closeted asshole fucker.

"Oh."

"I mean if you were fed all that shit from your dad, you would have been freaked to know the guy you slept in the same room with all the time liked cock. Hell, if he knew he'd probably throw my ass out of the house right now for still sleeping in the same room with you since he'd probably figure it meant I liked cock, too."

Everything in my stomach was twisting then, pain almost as sharp as it had been the night I'd outed myself in front of him, still remembering the look he'd given me.

The look before he'd turned away from me.

"Hey," he whispered, and suddenly he was too close and I could hear the seizing choking noises coming out of me. "E, man. It's OK."

I sat up, trying to get away from him and wanting to lean into him, sitting with my knees curled up tight to my chest, with my elbows perched on them and my head in my shaking palms. He didn't try to follow me up, and I looked over my shoulder for just an instant to see him still hovering over my sleeping bag, lying on his side, his hand outstretched like he'd been about to touch me.

That image just made the pained, forced quality of my breathing more violent and terrifying, my whole body tensed and desperate for his touch and everything in me recoiling away from it, knowing it would be too much. Knowing my frozen heart might finally and permanently break.

"E," he sighed and I shook my head, not knowing how to answer and feeling like a monster and a freak, just like I had the first time I'd realized I wanted him to touch me. The stirrings of arousal in spite of my fear and self-disgust just made my shame rise higher, and I was all but ready to just give up and make a break for the stairs and the safety of my room.

But I heard Jasper moving behind me then, his scent washing over me and there was heat all along my spine, he was so close to me. He sat cross-legged beside me, too close and not close enough and staring at his hands.

When he finally spoke it was with the tiniest, gruffest whisper, his voice rough with anxiety, and yet colored with something more. "It freaked me out because it confused the hell out of me."

Everything in the world stilled, and in the silence I couldn't even hear the sound of our breathing. Maybe because we had stopped.

Shakily, I turned my head and stared at the curve of his back, the hunch of his shoulders. The fullness of his mouth.

With your heart asshole, not your fucking dick.

I closed my eyes tightly without turning away and exhaled long and hard.

"What the fuck do you mean, Jasper?"

"I mean, fuck…, well maybe I've been ... attracted to a guy once or twice."

My whole chest lit up with pain so hot it almost felt like relief, and it was all I could do not to start laughing maniacally.

"Well, not guy, really," he continued softly and then paused. "You."

All of my concentration was bent on breathing. In and out. In and out.

He couldn't mean that.

He didn't mean that.

But then my breath wasn't the only breath in my face, warmth fanning out over my mouth and amber and mint and Jasper in my nose and I actually whimpered, not wanting to open my eyes to have the spell I was under broken.

To not have the tantalizing possibility of everything I'd ever wanted crash right back down to the ground and break me.

"Edward," he breathed, and I felt it and tasted it. "Look at me, Edward."

"Why?" I whispered, still safe behind my eyelids.

"Because I want you to know who's kissing you."

I couldn't feel anything except his voice, his breath washing over me, my whole body numb as agonizingly slowly I opened my eyes.

And he was there. So close. So fucking close.

So slowly I was terrified I was imagining it, he inched closer, those deep eyes still open and focused intently on me. My breathing grew even more shallow, my body still frozen, until I felt his hand on my cheek, rough and warm and I whimpered again, something shattering in me, but it was something that had to break for me to ever be put together again.

Because the aching in my heart from a thousand tiny fissures had never healed right.

But the moment his lips touched mine, everything was suddenly right. There was no pain and my heart was beating and I was breathing, and his mouth was warm and soft and right.

"Jasper," I whispered, but it sounded more like a sob, and I was pushing back into him, pressing my lips to his more firmly and it was home. I kept whimpering his name as I kissed him over and over and over, half expecting him to retreat each time, but he was right there with me, my own name falling from those perfect lips, his mouth warm and inviting and pressing back into me just as firmly.

My body started to thaw, finally, the heat of his mouth pushing through me. Unfrozen, I found my hands and found his skin, the rough stubble of his jaw sweet beneath my thumb, his hair softer than I'd ever realized. As I kneaded my fingertips through his scalp he moaned, and the sound went straight to my cock, his lips parting, and suddenly I couldn't get enough. I found myself pressing forward, pushing my mouth against his and feeling warmth and wetness and sliding flesh, the slick muscle of his tongue reaching out for mine and it was bliss.

I didn't know if he was falling or if I was pushing or both, but I only came to awareness when he was flat on his back on the floor, his legs stretched out and his whole body under me, his chest hot and heaving. I shifted then, kissing him harder and still needing more, eight fucking years of needing and wanting suddenly set loose and I had no control.

"Stop me, J," I groaned, my throbbing dick fucking leaking and pressing against his hip and it was so good it made me just moan harder.

"No," he panted, and I almost panicked, not knowing how to stop, desperate not to really, my heart hammering and sinking and it was too much and not enough. "Don't - don't stop."

The noise that fell out of my chest surprised even me, something hard and keening, and I was kissing him even harder, my entire being reduced to nothing but his scent and his mouth and his hand on me.

"Fuck, Jasper," I growled when his touch met my need, the back of his hand brushing agonizingly over my dick, my hard-on swelling to the point of pain. Desperate now, I pressed my body more deeply into his, letting myself finally feel how good it was to be there, wrapped up in him and pushing my hips against his. When I felt his hardness against mine I could have cried.

He wanted this too.

Wanting to claim him and fuck him and devour him I started kissing a wet line to his ear, breaking away just long enough to breathe before pressing my forehead into the ground beside his ear.

"Tell me you want this. Tell me you won't hate me in the morning for making you do this," I panted. Because there was no fucking way I was going to be that guy. Because my whole chest was cracking with want and need.

And fear.

"Tell me, J," I groaned, agonized. "Tell me you aren't just fucking me as a way to tell your dad to fuck off. Tell me you want this. Tell me - "

"Edward," he whispered, cutting me off and shifting his hips until it was all I could do not to scream and buck into him it felt so good. I clenched my eyes tight and pulled my hands into fists on either side of his head. "Fucking look at me."

He said it with so much force I couldn't not obey, shaking my head slightly as I opened my eyes, fearing what I'd find there. But all I found was want and need, lust and sex in bright grey eyes turning black.

"Edward," he whispered, "I want you."

He didn't give me time to respond before he pulled me back to his mouth, consuming me the way that I wanted to consume him, his hands traveling down my back, gripping and probably bruising for all I cared. I groaned with my whole body when tense fingers dug into my hip, pulling me into him so our cocks were grinding hard against each other.

It was the most intense sexual experience of my life and he hadn't even really touched me yet.

Swearing under my breath I pushed my mouth down his face, over the rough line of his chin, biting and sucking at flesh and bone and stubble, every noise that he made just fueling the fire in my body, set to burst. I sat up on my knees then, bending to push the hem of his shirt up to see the dirty blond trail of hair across his flesh leading down into his pants. Lost in the sight of it and lost in his skin, I pressed my lips to the swath of softness between the crest of his hipbone and his navel.

Breathing hard and unable to resist, lost in the fucking scent of him, all sweat and want and lust, I ducked my head to run my nose over the hard line of him, exhaling with my mouth and feeling my own hot breath reflected back at me as his cock pulsed.

"I want to touch you," I said gruffly, my voice cracking with need as I let my lips brush over the fabric that covered his head. "I want to make you come, J."

"Please," he whimpered and any pretense at control I might have had snapped in an instant as I growled and tensed and gave in. Pushing forward to kiss him, all teeth and tongue, my hands were shaking to finally touch him. I fumbled, tugging at his waistband until his pants slid past his hips jerkily and his cock was freed, slapping against my abdomen.

He was silk and hard and hot in my hands, flesh and steel, and I groaned as if I were being touched myself as I moved to suck at his neck, twisting my palm slowly over every inch of his cock, feeling the skin slicken as I passed over the head.

At the first real down stroke, Jasper's body tremored, muted curses betrayed by the tension in his neck and the way his eyes rolled back as I finally put my hands to his flesh. His nails were hard against my skin, his grip too desperate and perfect as pain mixed with pleasure and desire in my fevered brain.

After a few slow pumps, his groans grew louder, and I barely noticed when he started shaking his head.

"Too soon. Too fucking soon," he hissed. I was ready to panic until he leaned forward to bring us both to sitting, kissing me again in a rough tangling of lips, his fists loosening from my hip and shoulder. When his knuckles brushed the aching line of my cock again I almost lost it, feeling pleasure rising too hotly as I fought to keep it down.

"I don't know what to do, E," he whispered, his tongue thick between my teeth and his scent in my lungs. "Show me how to be good to you."

I swallowed a moan of pleasure and need, releasing him with one hand to tug at my own pants, feeling cool air and the hot skin of his hip against my dick, a clear line of slick fluid lingering and connecting our flesh.

"Just - fuck - your hands. I want your hands on me," I breathed, intertwining our fingers and bringing them to where I needed to be touched. I didn't let up on his cock, still stroking it relentlessly, shuddering as our joined hands began to move over me. I closed my eyes to block out the rush of sensation, twisting nerves and skin and the heat of his body.

And nothing had ever felt this good. Nothing. Not the nameless fucks, all of them a futile effort to try to deny that I wanted this. Not the endless nights spent dreaming about this.

And for one moment there was nothing else. Just Jasper's mouth and my mouth, Jasper's breath and his heart and his cock and our hands sliding hard and slick over mine.

It was good.

It was right.

It was home.

"I can't - I - I'm gonna," he groaned, and I felt the surge in his cock, the hot flow as he came in wet spasms across my hand and hip. I felt his release in my own need, everything intensifying as I drove our hands harder and faster, my eyes closing, and I buried my face in his shoulder, desperate just to feel.

"Come, E. Come for me." His breath was raspy and hot in my ear, his voice on a direct line to my cock as I whimpered, almost overwhelmed and so close. Finally, the feeling began to peak, the pleasure too much and in a series of too-rough tugs along my skin I felt my whole body give in, lost in sensation, every nerve on fire and pulsing as I came.

Everything was still in the moments after, and it wasn't for a few heartbeats that bliss turned to fear.

What the fuck had we done?

And would he want to do it again?

My cock pulsed as he let it go, and I chanced a look up at his eyes, finding them watching me coolly, betraying nothing as my battered heart all but split in two, rising and crashing, and I couldn't catch my breath.

His eyes flickered down, widening slightly, and I followed them to take in the mess we had made, my come mixing with his and splattered all over my shirt.

Not having anything else to work with, I pulled off my shirt carefully, turning it inside out and using it to clean my body and his before pulling up my pants and shifting away a bit, sitting a few inches from his side.

We were both looking down at our hands, saying nothing. My throat was frozen, no words existing to encapsulate how euphoric I was to have had my every teenage masturbatory fantasy acted out in real life and terrified I'd just lost everything I'd ever had that mattered. My breath was starting to pulse faster and faster, panic rising in my throat and my eyes closing tightly to give me something to hide behind, when I felt a warm touch against my side.

"Tell me about this," he asked quietly, his hand tracing the lines of ink I'd burned into my flesh as penance for him.

My heart and body melted the instant he touched me again, and I exhaled a ragged sigh.

I watched his face as steadily as I could as I spoke, his eyes following his hand across my body, sending ripples of calm and excitement through me. "It was um, ... it's a reminder. To be myself. To never lie to the people that matter most."

"That's a good thing to remember," he whispered, looking at me. Our eyes held in a challenge and an acknowledgement of everything as he leaned in, and so fucking softly, he kissed me. He released my lips after a moment, his forehead pressed against mine, his hand still warm against the cooling skin of my side. "Can I still stay here?"

I actually laughed a little, lifting my hand to feel the stubble of his cheek. "Of course. This is practically your home, J. I'm not going to kick you out because you gave me a hand job."

His breath hitched just a little at the word 'home' and for a minute he was eerily still.

"It really is, E." He was so quiet I could barely hear him, that voice he used when he was telling me something he'd really prefer to keep locked up inside. Every time I'd heard that voice in the last eight years, I'd wanted to put my arms around him.

And for once I finally could.

"Come here," I whispered, lying down and pulling his body against my side. My whole chest glowed when he didn't resist, laying his head down on my shoulder, those curls tickling my chin as my hands wrapped around his back and neck.

He shifted for just a second, scaring me that he maybe he was ready to bolt after all, before he grabbed the side of his sleeping bag and pulled it over us, tucking it around my bare skin and relaxing back into my chest.

After a few minutes, it seemed pretty clear that nothing else was going to be said tonight, so I closed my eyes, feeling exhaustion washing over me again. Kissing gently at the top of his head, I whispered, "Goodnight, J," into the mess of his hair.

"Goodnight, E," he replied, his lips pressing once against the space above my heart. "And, um, thanks."

I ran my hands once more over the length of his back, my whole chest so fucking warm as I breathed, "You're welcome."

Because he was.

Welcome in my heart.

Welcome in my home.

And welcome once more in my life.

.

.

.

.

*********************************************************
Prompt: Today, I came home to find my Dad cheating on his new wife of six weeks. With my own mother who was supposedly dating "a real catch". Should I be happy that my parents love each other or pissed off that they're both whores? I can't decide. FML